Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.
TOPIC AT HAND
We now turn to our third category: delusion. You have left ‘deep bondage’ and have begun to live in the light of the Gospel. You have left ‘sloth’ and grace has brought you the necessary helps to move forward in discipleship. Now what?
Our teacher gives us very good helps for identifying and living in the reality of things.
Some examples of what people say in this area:
“I just want to be a Saint and be really holy.”
“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all.”
“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual.”
“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic.”
Or something like that in other words, or even without words, with presumptuous actions and decisions.
Many people become spiritually delusional.
Massive distinction to help in this stage of the Christian life: 1) where do I want to be (a saint, really holy, perfect in every way, at peace with all people) and 2) where am I currently (imperfect in many ways).
We must have a goal, but we cannot pretend that we can live in that goal prematurely.
For any of the statements above that began with ‘just’ (I just wanna…), there is no ‘just’. There is no escaping the actual realities of our lives. If we want to ‘just’ be any of the above, we have to actually engage in the exact activities, difficulties, and seemingly-in-the-way barriers that are right in front of us.
“I want to be a Saint and be really holy but I have friends that keep tempting me.” Guess what? Dealing with those relationships well is exactly how you will be come a Saint and be really holy.
“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all, but there are difficult people and things don’t always go my way.” Guess what? How are you supposed to learn to love perfectly if you don’t get to practice on difficult people? And how are you supposed to grow if no troubles come your way? Who learns without studying? Who gets better without practice? Who gets in shape without exercise?
“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual but I get distracted by all of the world’s stuff.” Guest what? “Who can love the God they do not see if they do not love the person they can see?” – St. John. To grow in spirituality is never disconnected from growth in love of neighbor.
“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic but prayer doesn’t seem to go that way.” Guess what? The mystics didn’t just sit around and become mystics. They had to travel through difficulties, dryness, distraction, times of great weakness and pain.
Moral of the story: To attain the goal means to travel the real road that arrives there. We aren’t there, but we are headed there. “Pick up your cross and follow ME.” – Jesus.
Read the Spiritual Combat online here.
Read all of chapter 30 below.
To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.
Coming up next, chapter 31: The Devil’s Devices V of VI
all of chapter 30:
Our malignant foe, thus repulsed in his first and second assault and stratagem, has recourse to a third, which is, to turn away our attention from the enemies who are close at hand to injure and assail us, and to fill us with resolutions and desires after higher degrees of perfection.
Hence we are continually being wounded; yet we pay no attention to our wounds, and looking upon these resolutions as already fulfilled, we take pride in them in various ways.
And while we cannot endure the least thing or the slightest word which crosses our will, we were our time in long meditations and resolutions to endure the acutest sufferings on earth or in purgatory for the love of God.
And because our inferior part feels no repugnance at these things in the distance, we flatter ourselves, miserable creatures as we are, into the conceit that we belong to the class of patient and heroic sufferers.
To avoid this snare, resolve to fight manfully against the enemies who are close at hand, and actually waging war against you. You will thus discover whether your resolutions are real or imaginary, weak or strong; and so you will go on to virtue and perfection by the beaten and royal road.
But against enemies who are not wont to trouble you I do not advise you to take up arms, unless there appear a probability of their making an attack at some future time. In this case it is lawful to make resolutions beforehand, that you may be found strong and prepared.
Do not, however, judge of your resolutions by their effects, even though you should have long and faithfully exercised yourself in virtue; but be very humble with regard to them; fear yourself and your own weakness, and trust in God, and seek His help by frequent prayer to strengthen and preserve you in all dangers, and especially from the very slightest presumption or self-confidence.
For in this case, though we may not be able to overcome some slight defects which our Lord sometimes leaves in us in order to greater, humility and self-knowledge, and for the protection of some virtue, we may yet be permitted to form purposes of aspiring to higher degrees of perfection.